Sunday, March 31, 2013

Superb (Easter) Sunday

Happy Easter!  And for those of you who may not celebrate Easter, Happy Spring!  I ended up just making Rice Krispies Treats in a pan...and with Kix because apparently there were no more Rice Krispies in my neighborhood.  Anyways...some superb things!!

Superb Funny

I actually find this picture so amusing that I used to have it hanging in my cube at work.  I don't know why, but the absurdity of it cracks me up.

Superb Snack Attack

These cucumber feta bites look so cool and refreshing.  What a great snack for a summer party!

Superb Style

Vintage/50's/60's style clothes have always been a favorite of mine.  I love this dress; it's sexy without being skank looking, and would be flattering on a lot of different body types.

Superb Sip

This looks quite refreshing.  And would go well with the cucumber bites!

I really wish I'd read this BEFORE the last time I moved.  If I ever move again (which I'm sure will happen sometime, but I don't want it to...), I'll be re-reading this.  The best one is putting your clothes on the hangers into garbage bags. Genius. 

I never made pasta puttanesca, but it's really good; super flavorful without being heavy or fattening.  It does have a lot of strong flavors (olives, anchovy paste, capers), so it's not for everyone, but it is for me!!! 

Superb Advice 

I think it speaks for itself.  Personally, I believe that this is actually what God meant when He told us to "love thy neighbor".  If you're not religious, it's still solid advice. 

If you've never had Shakshuka, you're missing out.  It's basically just eggs baked into a spicy tomato sauce, but there's something about it that is SO GOOD.  Since it's eggs, it can be breakfast, but you could definitely do it for lunch or dinner too.  Try it out, you won't be sorry. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

My Favorite Vegetables

For a while, I thought veggies were boring and not very good.  Then I realized that there are ways to prepare them other than just steaming them plain, boiling them, or eating them raw, and it opened my eyes to a whole new world of cooking delight.  Lest you think that I'm some kind of veggie monster, I feel that I should let you know that my vegetable intake isn't what it should be.  You see, Michelle Obama (who I kind of wish was my BFF) says that my plate should look like this:

Although it isn't quite this (especially considering I'm mostly vegetarian), there is still some room for improvement. 

Clearly, there can be some kind of balance.  The first change that I have tried to make, is to stop thinking that my plate actually has to look like the image above.  Just because it's not split apart into little corners, doesn't mean that I'm not eating the vegetables.  Mixing them into already delicious things, like pasta, will definitely help bump up the veggie intake. 

Skinnytaste - Skinny Baked Broccoli Mac and Cheese

I also try to eat at least one salad a day.  I figure that even if it's on the small side, it's better than nothing.  I usually eat it at lunch and start with it when I get hungry (which seems to be getting earlier and earlier every day...).  I usually just do lettuce/salad mix, carrots, celery, and peppers with dressing, but to make it a full meal, add in some other stuff.  This lovely salad creation is by Milton's Aunt Liz.  The addition of croutons and cheese make it so much better than just lettuce.

I know that a lot of people are used to eating the same rotation over and over.  I used to do broccoli and green beans all the time, mostly because that is what my mom made us all the time, so that's what I was used to.  While I do like broccoli and green beans, it's nice to change it up.  There are two ways to do this.  Try to find a vegetable you're not familiar with in the grocery store and then do a bit of research and cook it up.  You might find a new favorite (that's what happened to me with kale!).  Or, look up some new ways to cook an old favorite.  Once I started roasting veggies instead of boiling them, I re-invigorated my love of broccoli. 

Kalyn's Kitchen Roasted Green Beans - I haven't tried this yet, but it looks good!

The Amateur Gourmet - The Best Broccoli - if you've never had roasted broccoli, you are SERIOUSLY missing out.  Do this now.  You'll eat more broccoli than you really considered possible. 

See?  Look at all these delightful ways to enjoy vegetables.  If you're able, stop by a farm stand and pick up super fresh ones.  Your body and your taste buds will thank you. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Personal Pan Cookie

Although the skillet cookie is practically perfect in every way, as a single gal, I often don't need that much cookie around.  I mean, let's face it, if it's there, I'm just going to eat it.  But, I don't really like boxed cookies, and apparently bakeries close at like 5pm (why!? WHY?!), which doesn't help my late night cooking cravings.  Enter, the personal pan cookie.  I followed this single serving deep dish cookie recipe (but I doubled it so that I could have leftovers).  It was quite good, easy to make, and, perhaps best of all, no giant bag of leftovers.

This is for half of what I made, FYI.

First, pre-heat the oven to 375.  Then, either in the microwave or on the stove, melt 2 Tablespoons of butter.

In a small oven-safe dish, put one tablespoon each of brown sugar and white sugar.  Add the melted butter and whisk to combine.

Now add the following:
1/4 Cup Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
Pinch of Salt
Few Drops of Vanilla
Chocolate Chips

Pop it in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until crispy around the edges. 

So this is definitely tasty, however, because there is no egg in it, it's drier than a regular cookie.  It's also a bit more crumbly than usual.  I combated this with extra milk, but I thought I'd give you the heads up.  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sandwich Night

There is a magical place in Tallahassee, FL with the very best sandwiches ever.  I've tried to find a place that compares to Hopkins everywhere else I've ever lived, but so far I've been unsuccessful.  Alas, this is probably better for my waistline and my wallet.  However, I've managed to make some pretty good sandwiches at home.  My favorite kinds of sandwiches are grilled/pannini style.  There's just something about that melty cheese and crispy bread that makes my life complete.  Last night, I was feeling bored and sad with my planned meal of only a salad (I ended up having a small one on the side anyways), and there were some random things in the fridge that I felt I should use up soon, so this delight was born. 

Tofu/Peppers/Onions/Blue Cheese Sammie (Yea, sometimes I steal lame phrases from Rachael Ray.  Sorry I'm not sorry):

Very first, if you're using frozen bread, take it out of the freezer and set it on the counter to thaw some.  It's perfectly fine to use frozen bread, but it is easier if it's somewhat soft already.

Then, chop up some bell pepper and onion and sort of caramelize them; just chop and cook over medium heat in a little bit of olive oil.  Don't forget the salt and pepper!!  Since I was only making one sandwich, I didn't use very much.  It's tempting to have a giant, overstuffed sammie, but unless you're using a sub roll, it's hard to grill those.

Let them do their thing while you make the tofu.  If you've never cooked with tofu before, might I recommend you start.  On its own, it doesn't really taste like anything, so you can make it into whatever you want.  It's a great meat substitute for your vegetarian friends, or just if you're trying to change it up and/or eat less meat.  Also, it keeps roughly forever in the fridge. 

I decided to grill this a bit, just to add some flavor and warm it up.  It's easier to make hot sandwiches if the fillings aren't stone cold.  However, it is perfectly safe to eat it cold if you like.  I just sprinkled salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning on it and grilled it with some olive oil for 3-4 minutes per side.

In my personal opinion, all sandwiches need some kind of moisture.  Often I'll use mayo/mustard, but I have this Gorgonzola dip in the fridge, so as a substitute for sliced cheese, I added a bit of that to the bread. 

Next, if you have a fancy pannini press, go ahead and heat it up.  Make sure to grease it first, or else your sandwich will end up a stuck-on pile of doom.  If you don't have one, it's not a problem, just use a regular fry pan and put a plate and a few big cans on top to weigh it down. 

Now, for delicious assembly.  Put the cooked onions and peppers onto the bread, then top with the tofu and other slice of bread.  Pop into the press and go to town!

I left mine in there for around 8-10 minutes, on medium heat.  If you're using a pan, let it go for 5-6 on one side, then flip and cook another 3-4.  Obviously, if you prefer extra crispy, leave it longer. 

Slice and enjoy!  I also had a salad with this, but I forgot to take a picture and it was super boring.  Happy sammiching. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Quinoa Salad

Guys, this salad is good.  Like really, really good.  So good that I actually temporarily forgot how much health is packed in it.  As always, it is quite easy to tailor this to what you like to eat/what you already have at home.  For my add-ins, I used dried apricots, dried cranberries, almonds, a few sunflower seeds, goat cheese, and arugula.  I loosely followed Lulus Quinoa Salad recipe, but really just for the leeks and dressing. 

For the leeks:

If you've never cooked leeks before, I highly recommend them.  They're like giant green onions; the flavor is fairly mild, if you're not "aggressive" like I am and eat raw onions on sandwiches.  As usual, the flavor mellows out with cooking.  Leeks aren't terribly difficult to prepare, but they have a lot of layers, so dirt can get trapped in there. 

Chop off the bottom part and most of the green leaves.  Theoretically, you can put the bottoms in water and they will re-generate.  I'm trying it, so I will let you know.  The tops, save and saute for a stir fry.  No reason to be wasteful.

Cut them into rounds, and then rinse VERY well in cold water.  I usually put them in a colander and let the water run over them for 4-5 minutes, shaking it every so often, so that they all get cleaned. 

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan.  Add the leeks, 2 teaspoons of sugar, salt, and pepper.  Stir to combine and then allow to cook on medium heat for 20-30 min, until the leeks are at your desired level of doness.

Quinoa is pretty easy to prepare;  you just boil it like any other grain product.  Use 2 cups of liquid for each 1 cup of quinoa, this makes 3 cups of finished quinoa.  I used vegetable stock, but you can use water or another kind of stock.  Put the quinoa into the pot with the stock and bring to a boil.  Cover and allow to cook for 15-20 min; it's done when the liquid is all gone.

For the dressing, combine 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 cup of orange juice, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and some honey in a jar. 

I like to fresh squeeze my orange juice, mostly because I don't want to buy a whole half gallon of juice for this small of an amount.  Also, it makes me feel like a real professional cook.  

Shake what your momma gave you until it's all combined.  I started this in a bowl, where I was planning to whisk it, but the bowl was too small, so I transferred.  This is better anyways.  

Pour the dressing over the quinoa, leeks, and various toppings and combine.  Enjoy!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Meal Plan Monday

Alas, the weekend is over.  I knew it was going to happen, but it would have been really cool if it had just stopped yesterday at around 2pm for another day or so.  It looks like it's going to be a nice week though, with a bit more sunshine and spring-like weather.  I'm very excited, as is Milton.  It's just so much easier to go on nice walks with him when it's nice out. 

I've been HORRIBLE with my eating the past week.  I did make a few of the meals that I planned from last week, but I also ate a lot of junk.  Especially at work; my Starbucks habit is apparently back in full force.  I really need to get control of that sooner rather than later.  Also, I almost have enough cash saved up to buy a camera.  I'm going to get it refurbished to save a few bucks, but I also want to get a cute case and strap for it, so I need to save some dolla dolla billz y'all.

I haven't yet been grocery shopping, but I do have a vague idea of what I'm making this week.  Two new recipes, plus a special treat for the little monkeys on Sunday.  It's Easter, which CVS tells me is a celebration of all things brightly dyed and marshmellowed.  I'm thinking about doing these Rice Krispy Treats Eggs.  Kids love sticky stuff.

Salad from the salad place up the street while I go and run errands
Twice Baked Potatoes
A trip to the grocery store :)

Smoothie (I'm going to get some protein powder because I'd like for it to keep me full for longer than my commute)
Quiona Salad
Gigantic salad with lots of tasty things, toast, and homemade salad dressing

Quiona Salad
Spicy Thai Noodles

Thai Noodles
Quiona Salad
Also making whatever treat I decide on for the kiddos

Quiona Salad
Leftover noodles OR out OR delivery

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Superb Sunday

Once again, we've reached the end of the weekend.  Bummer.  However, it's FINALLY nice outside, so Milton and I went for a nice walk.  He was super slow; I think he wanted to make sure he got the most out of the sunshine.

Superb Home Accessory

I know it's not the most appropriate or polite sentiment, but every time I see this, I crack up.  It fits my sarcastic sense of humor quite well I think.

Superb Carbaholic

Although I love Asian flavors, I never make those foods at home.  These spicy Thai noodles look really tasty
and don't have a laundry list of ingredients that I don't have around.

Superb Advice

It's a little silly, but his advice is dead on.  Seriously ladies, don't dumb yourself down for some dude.  Ms. Norbury would be way disappointed.

Superb Sweet

One of my favorite cakes is just a simple white cake with chocolate frosting.  This lemon cake with fudge frosting looks awesome.  I've always loved citrus things, and I believe that everything can be improved with the addition of chocolate.  Someone needs to have a birthday so I can make them this cake.

Superb Adorableness

In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived 12 little girls in two straight lines.  I love the Madeline books and try to push them on the monkeys at every opportunity.  Make sure to look at the whole post (click the "Superb Adorableness" link).

Superb Start

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, which is great because it's apparently the most important one.  I do love oatmeal, but this fried oatmeal looks even better.

Superb Immature Hilarity

I must be in a goofy mood today, but this is cracking me up.  It accurately defines my feelings on these.

Superb Snackable

I love anything buffalo chicken; wings are actually one of the biggest reasons I don't think I could ever go full vegetarian.  Goat cheese is my second favorite, after buffalo whatever.  So a combo, buffalo goat cheese bits?  Heaven.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Savin' Cash Monies

There's really no getting around it, grocery shopping can get expensive.  At first, you think it's not going to be so bad, but then you load up the cart with all kinds of delightful treats, and next thing you know the woman at the check out counter is asking you for $80.  WHAT?!  How does this even happen?  I'm my case, probably because my eyes are bigger than my stomach and I love to try new things.  But, if those new things are going to go bad, it's a waste of money anyways.  So here is how I save a few dollars at the store; none of this information is anything new or Earth shattering, but it's helped me. 

1. Know what's in your fridge
There are weird and creepy things lurking in the back of your fridge and/or pantry.  Maybe you haven't smelled them yet, but I promise, unless you are super neurotically clean, they are there (as an aside, if you're super neurotically clean and want to help a sister out....let me know, I'll give you the address).  Once you go through everything and toss anything that looks more like your 4th grade science fair experiment than actual food, you'll know what you have and can start building meals from there.  Also, lessening the creep-out factor of your own home is always a positive.

2. Be a (wo)man with a plan
I've already covered this, so I'll just say again, make some kind of outline of what you're going to eat that week.  Shop accordingly.

3. Make a list
My love of listing things knows no bounds.  I once actually made a master list of all my lists and it was amazing.  But, there is really no need to be that intense about it.  However, before entering the store, you definitely need to have a plan.  If not, you're probably going to end up with a lot of impulse junk food and nothing to make dinner out of.  Here are a few websites that have printable lists, either with check boxes or to fill out yourself.  You can also use your smart phone and go with an app. 

4. Shop the Circular
Those kind of annoying fliers you get in the mail once a week?  You should definitely be looking at those; they show all the sales at your local stores.  The link above also has them, or you can try the website of your local stores.  Either way, check this out and you're going to save money.  I try to only get things that are on sale (it's not always possible, but I try).  Unless it's a staple, like milk or eggs, you can probably wait to get it for another week. 

5. Clip a few coupons
It is easy to think that in order to do coupons, you have to be an extreme couponer.  I personally believe that is a straight up lie.  Money Saving Mom is an amazing resource for coupons.  She has great tips on where to find them and how to best use them.  The ideal is to pair the coupons with a sale, but doing one or the other is also helpful. 

Hopefully some of these tips will save you a few dollars to spend on things you love.  Like handbags and tank tops.  There are some really good resources out there to help if you want/need to be a little more intense with this.  The aforementioned Money Saving Mom is a great start, as is And Then We Saved.  Happy saving, and be sure to send me a picture of the fabulous new shoes you got with all the cash you've saved on groceries!  Also, my best tip...don't go to the store hungry.  Just don't.  No good will come of this, I promise.